alpha hen? which one?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Gazinga, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. Gazinga

    Gazinga Chook Norris

    how can i tell which one is the "alpha hen" i have one rooster and ten hens, all the hens seem to be on even rank, how can i tell the pecking order?
  2. Gazinga

    Gazinga Chook Norris

  3. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    Quote:try to give the hens some treats and see who eats first and fight the others for the food.
  4. Gazinga

    Gazinga Chook Norris

    i still dont get it, the alpha will eat first? after fighting or no one fight the alpha? how else can i tell?
  5. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    I tink the alpha hen will get the food first and no one will be able o take the treats from her, in my little flock of 7 hen and one rooster, one of the hens look the meanest to me she even pick on the rooster and no one can stand her way when it comes to food.
  6. Pinky

    Pinky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    South GA
    Even with a rooster,my alpha hen still acts as a leader.She is the first one to the food,and will chase the others away untill she's eaten what she wants.She is usually the first to lay an egg in the morning,and also the first to let us know.When she spots a predator,or has laid an egg,she will call first and the others will join in(even when she does the predator/egg call and nothing's there).
  7. Kev

    Kev Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 13, 2008
    Sun City, California
    Despite what's commonly said, the pecking order often is not in a neat linear sequence (a-b-c).

    There can be one hen that is dominant over many/most hens. In a small flock it can happen there indeed is one hen that is dominant over all hens- that is a "true alpha".

    However, the pecking order can be and often is like this: Hen A is alpha over B, C, D but hen E whups A's butt. Or each hen is dominant over only a few, and a few others are dominant over her.. this can make a flock seem about "even" with this sort of complicated pattern. This sort of pattern can cause a revolving wheel style around a bowl with yummies..

    Dominance of one hen over another can be seen by a hen sometimes pecking at another hen to tell her to get out of the way(as in on a perch) or just away from food/her own personal space. If the hen being pecked suddenly moves away or "swerves" her head, occasionally a submissive hen will raise her wings and softly flap them- this is a submission signal directed at another bird.. you are seeing a dominance pattern.

    When a bird is "mad" or wants to warn another bird it thinks is a lesser specimen, she/he slightly drops their wings and tilts tail towards the other bird.. if the other bird does not back off she will turn to directly face the other bird and stand tall and give a few pecks to press the message. Roosters also use this posturing but much more obvious and often add wing and foot stomping action.

    Position is settled by fighting(it can either be a few forceful pecks or full blown wing beating and clawing) and once established and stable(no new birds added or removed) it can be so stable there is nothing really obvious for a long time.
  8. Gazinga

    Gazinga Chook Norris

    ok, see, thats interesting info! thanks
  9. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    I agree that it's not linear. In fact, sometime they're not even on the same line.

    Our banty cochin, Tribble, was introduced when they were all the same size. The standards are probably 3-4 times her weight/size now. Tribble isn't the top girl by any stretch of the imagination, but she's tolerated and respected by the others, even though she's not really seen by them as part of their group. They'd be happy without her, but she's miserable without them.

    the BR is the top hen but only recently has asserted herself after an illness.

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